Brazilian torture survivor Ines Etienne Romeu dies

BBC News, 4/28/2015

The only survivor of a torture centre where the Brazilian military regime interrogated opponents in the 1970s has died at the age of 72.

Ines Etienne Romeu memorised the names of her abusers and the location of what became known as the House of Death in Petropolis near Rio de Janeiro. Her testimony for Brazil’s Truth Commission was key in exposing human rights abuses under military rule.

In 2003 she survived an attack in her home that left her unable to speak. The intruder was never identified.

Read more…

Brazil truth commission: Abuse ‘rife’ under military rule

BBC News, 12/10/2014

Brazil’s national truth commission says illegal arrests, torture, executions and forced disappearances were performed systematically by state agents under Brazil’s military rule.

In its final report, the commission also called for the armed forces to recognise their responsibility for the “grave violations” that happened.

More than 400 people were killed or disappeared between 1964 and 1985. Many others, among them President Dilma Rousseff, were arrested and tortured.

Read more…

Brazil Truth Commission: Torture, executions amounted to state policy

Al Jazeera – 12/10/2014

The Brazilian government routinely used torture, summary executions and forced disappearances against dissidents during the country’s 1964-85 military dictatorship in a campaign that amounted to official policy, according to a National Truth Commission report released on Wednesday.

“During the military dictatorship, repression and elimination of political opponents became state policy, designed and implemented from decisions emanating from the presidency of the republic and military ministries,” the report said according to Brazilian newspaper Estadao.

Commission members presented the findings of the nearly 3-year-long investigation based on over 1,000 testimonials to President Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist who suffered a long imprisonment and torture during the dictatorship.

Read more…

Exclusive: Volkswagen spied on Lula, other Brazilian workers in 1980s

Brian Winter – Reuters, 9/5/2014

Volkswagen AG spied on Brazilian union activists in the 1980s and passed sensitive information about wage demands and other private discussions to the country’s military dictatorship, according to newly uncovered documents seen by Reuters.

The company covertly monitored its own workers as well as prominent union leaders of the era. One of VW’s targets was Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who went on to become Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010 and remains one of its most influential politicians.

The documents were recently discovered in government archives by a special “truth commission” that, at the request of Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff, is investigating abuses that occurred during the 1964-1985 regime.

Read more…

Brazil’s military to cooperate in dirty war investigation

Vincent Bevins – The Los Angeles Times, 4/2/2014

Brazil’s military has agreed to open investigations of use  torture at bases it operated during two decades of dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

The announcement Tuesday, the 50th anniversary of the coup that toppled a democratically elected government, marked the first time the country’s armed forces have pledged to cooperate in examining human rights crimes for which no one has ever been tried. An amnesty law was passed by the military government in 1979.

The military government is accused of killing and “disappearing” more than 450 people and torturing and exiling thousands. The military on Tuesday finally accepted a request from the country’s Truth Commission, a public, non-military organ investigating abuses in the period, five decades after the day President Joao Goulart was deposed.

http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-brazil-military-dirty-war-20140402,0,290916.story#ixzz2xrVtVKuu

Breaking the silence in Brazil

Emma Sokoloff-Rubin – Foreign Affairs, 07/01/2013

In 1983, almost 30 years before Brazil inaugurated a truth commission to investigate the crimes of a brutal military dictatorship, seven college students put their lives on stage. The dictatorship was on the verge of collapse, but military rule was all this group had ever known.

Júlio Conte and his friends were studying theater in Porto Alegre, a city in southern Brazil. They had learned to be careful about what they said aloud. In their lifetime, nearly 500 Brazilians had been killed and 20,000 tortured by the government. Conte was tired of waiting for democracy. “Being censored makes you fight to speak,” his friend Flávio Bicca Rocha said in a recent interview.

The students captured the uncertainty and hope in Brazil at that moment by telling their own stories in a play, Bailei na Curva. The title, which means “I danced in the curve,” is slang for someone who has gotten hurt or lost his way. One of Bailei’s main characters, whose father is abducted by the military police, meets the same fate later in the play. Other characters try to make sense of their parents’ collaboration with the military, and all of them struggle with the gap between what they hear on the radio and the reality they see.

Read more…